Backgrounder: UVic home to new provincial centre for addictions research

Addictions to alcohol and drugs and the complications that result from them (including chronic diseases and fetal alcohol syndrome, as well as enormous family and social costs) have long been recognized as preventable problems. Yet, effective strategies to tackle these problems continue to be elusive. This stems in part from the complex causes of addictions, and from the lack of research focused on identifying best practices for their prevention and treatment. Moreover, addictions research has traditionally been conducted within separate disciplines, limiting the transfer of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries and to the knowledge users.

As the provincial base for addictions research, CAR-BC will facilitate the networking that is needed to conduct well-coordinated population health research on the causes, prevention and treatment of addictions. It will foster partnerships that build on the research strengths of UVic and the other universities in BC. This will include expertise in the biomedical cause of addictions, the social dimensions of addictions, particularly related to youth and aboriginal health, and health service delivery to remote populations.


It was the Kaiser Foundation, a non-profit Vancouver-based society, that took the lead in responding to a growing crisis within the addictions system in BC. In May 2000, the foundation released a report entitled, A Case for an Independent Substance Abuse Prevention and Addictions Commission for British Columbia. This report led to the creation of the BC Addictions Task Force, facilitated by the Kaiser Foundation. The task force produced the 2001 report, Weaving Threads Together, with key recommendations to improve the provision of addictions services in BC. The task force also recommended investing in the necessary infrastructure to evaluate outcomes and enhance knowledge and practice in the field of addictions. In response to these recommendations, the provincial government provided funding to create the BC Addictions Foundation. The foundation’s first initiative was to sponsor an addictions research centre.

CAR-BC will be advised by a board composed of a representative from each of the partner universities, health research agencies, community-based stakeholders, and policy makers.

Founding Director: UVic psychologist Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater is the co-director of UVic’s centre for youth and society, an interdisciplinary research group that focuses on promoting youth well-being through interdisciplinary community research partnerships. She is also the director of a Community Alliance for Health Research project at UVic entitled: “Healthy Youth in a Healthy Society: A Community Alliance for Reducing Risks for Injury in Children and Adolescents” (see Leadbeater is the author of a number of books, and most recently is the co-editor of Investing in Children, Youth and Families: Strengths Based Research and Policy. (American Psychological Association).

Advisory Board Chair: UVic health policy researcher Dr. Irving Rootman is an internationally renowned researcher and scholar in the field of health promotion research. As a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Distinguished Scholar, he is currently examining the link between literacy and health by developing and implementing a national program of research focusing on this connection. In the early 1980s, he helped develop the world’s first health promotion survey for Health Canada.

Advisory board member: Edgar Kaiser is the founder of the Kaiser Foundation, a BC addictions charity. The foundation facilitates relationships and manages the flow of information between all parts of the addictions system and produces and maintains the BC Addiction Information Online Centre, a comprehensive central source of information about addiction in BC, and the Directory of Addiction Services in British Columbia. Kaiser has recently been appointed to the board of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

The other advisory board members are:
  • Ms. Lauren Casey, Director, Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society (PEERS);
  • Dr. Bruce Clayman, Vice President Research, Simon Fraser University;
  • Dr. John Cutcliffe, Chair, Nursing, University of Northern BC;
  • Dr. Elliot Goldner, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia;
  • Mr. Pat Griffin, Executive Director, Victoria Youth Empowerment Society;
  • Ms. Jocelyn Harder, Member, Victoria Hope Society;
  • Ms. Leah Hollins, Chair, BC Addictions Foundation;
  • Dr. Perry Kendall, Provincial Health Officer, Ministry of Health Planning;
  • Dr. G. Alan Marlatt, Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Washington;
  • Dr. Anthony Phillips, Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of British Columbia;
  • Mr. Rick Roger, Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Island Health Authority;
  • Ms. Barbara Smith, Director, PEERS (alternate for Lauren Casey);
  • Dr. Martin Taylor, Vice President, Research, University of Victoria; and
  • Dr. Richard Vedan, Director, First Nations House of Learning, University of British Columbia
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Keywords: addiction

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